Feb. 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame men's soccer head coach Bobby Clark has announced the signing of six student-athletes to national letters of intent. The talented class will be eligible to play for the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall of 2012.
The six players hail from five different states. Comprising the Notre Dame men's soccer 2012 signing class are: forward/midfielder Patrick Hodan (Brookfield, Wis.), midfielder Connor Klekota (Amherst, Ohio), midfielder/defender Danny Lojek (Orland Park, Ill.), midfielder Evan Panken (Edina, Minn.), midfielder/defender Michael Shipp (Lake Forest, Ill.) and goalkeeper Brian Talcott (Omaha, Neb.).
"This is another great class for us," says Clark. "We'll find out just how good it is three years from now. I don't want to praise them too much or too little, but they are all kids that we really wanted. We are very pleased with this group of young players. All but one of them attended our camp here at Notre Dame. Many of them have been to our camp on multiple occasions so we feel that we really know them. The great thing about this group - and all of our recent classes - is that we recruit people who really want to come to Notre Dame. That is very important for us. This group is excited about coming to Notre Dame and we are excited to have them. We like them very much as players and also as people."
Name - Position - Height - Weight - Hometown/High School - Club
Patrick Hodan - F/M - 5-9 - 145 - Brookfield, Wis./Marquette Univ. High School - FC Milwaukee
National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American (2011) ... NSCAA Academic All-American (2011) ... Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association 2011 Player of the Year ... 2011 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Metro Player of the Year ... two-time first team all-conference, all-area, all-state and all-Midwest Region selection (2010 & 2011) ... three-year varsity starter at Marquette University High School ... as a junior, led his team to the 2010 Wisconsin Division I state title ... broke a 27 year-old record for most goals and points scored at the 2010 Wisconsin state tournament ... named ESPN Rise Player of the Week on November 3, 2010 ... as a senior, scored a school-record 45 goals and added 10 assists ... registered a school-record 81 goals and 27 assists during his career ... co-captained the 2011 team to a 24-0-1 record and the Wisconsin Division I state title ... the 2011 team was ranked third nationally according to ESPNRISE.com FAB 50 ... established a record for most goals and points scored at the 2011 Wisconsin state tournament ... led FC Milwaukee Academy team in goals scored (2008 & 2009) ... two-time Wisconsin State Cup champion (2007 & 2008) ... U.S. Youth Soccer Region II finalist (2008) ... Wisconsin Olympic Development Program (ODP) (2005- 2008) ... U.S. ODP Region II 1993 Regional Team (2008) ... 2007 National Champion, Kick-It 3v3 Soccer Shootout, Orlando, Fla. ... 2006 national runner-up, Kick-It 3v3 Soccer Shootout, Orlando, Fla. ... attended the Notre Dame Elite Soccer Camp in 2010 and 2011 ... selected to the Notre Dame Elite Soccer Camp all-star team in 2010 and 2011.
Clark on Hodan: "Patrick was an All-American both athletically and academically in high school. He's a kid that can really score goals. We feel his best role is playing underneath the main striker. I think he also can play in the midfield or as a high striker. He has a nose for the goal. He has that special quality of calmness around the goal. He's also very creative. He's an excellent fit for us because he's an excellent student as well."
Connor Klekota - M - 5-8 - 158 - Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele - Columbus Crew Soccer Academy
2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Region IV Team ... among the ESPN Rise class of 2012 Ohio prospects ... was mentioned on the ESPN Rise top 2012 recruits list along with the College Soccer News top 2012 recruits listing ... established Amherst Steele High School career records in goals (73) and assists (47) ... earned all-Ohio honors twice, including first-team accolades as a senior ... received all-Ohio academic honors on four occasions ... 2011 Southwestern Conference (SWC) Player of the Year ... 2010 & 2011 Lorain County Player of the Year ... three-time first team all-SWC ... SWC Scholar-Athlete ... copped Greater Cleveland accolades three times, including first-team honors twice ... three-time first team all-Lorain County ... two-time team MVP and offensive player of the year of the Amherst Steele team ... captained his high school squad during his junior and senior seasons ... four-time varsity letter winner ... 2011 SWC Champions (first time school history) ... high school team was ranked ninth, which marked its first-ever ranking ... helped lead high school team to a school-record 15 wins in 2011 ... as a freshman, his high school squad won the district title for the first time in team history ... received the 2008 Coaches Award (high school) ... Cleveland Plain Dealer Boys Soccer All-Star Team (2011) ... Columbus Crew Soccer Academy 18s 2011 Player of the Year (2011) ... captained his Columbus Crew Soccer Academy 18s squad ... selected to the all-star team at the 2010 Notre Dame Elite Soccer Camp ... his Columbus Crew Soccer Academy 18s qualified for the Developmental Academy Playoffs in 2010 ... also helped his Columbus Crew Soccer Academy 16s qualify for the Developmental Academy Playoffs in 2008 and 2009.
Clark on Klekota: "Connor has a fantastic personality. I think that's the thing that first of all attracted us to him. He also has very good ability. Last year, he was voted the player of the year for his Columbus Crew team and there were a lot of good players on that team. I asked his coach why Connor was named the player of the year and he said that Connor affected the game more than anyone on the squad. He will play as a midfielder, but he can also play other roles. He plays mainly as a sitting midfielder. He connects his passes well and he's a smart player."
Danny Lojek - M/D - 5-10 - 145 - Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg - Chicago Fire Academy
A three-year varsity starter at Carl Sandburg High School ... did not play his sophomore season as he was training with the Chicago Magic Academy ... led high school team in scoring during his junior and senior seasons ... two-time offensive player of the year for Carl Sandburg ... two-time all-Southwest (2010 & 2011) ... 2011 Southtown Star all-area team ... captained his high school squad during his senior season ... two-time Super Y-League National Camp selectee ... 2008 Illinois State Cup champion with the Chicago Magic ... scored the winning goal in the Illinois State Cup final ... currently plays with the Chicago Fire Academy.
Clark on Lojek: "Danny is a great story because both of his parents are from Poland, yet they met here in the United States and Danny was born here. We see him playing as a wide player. He's left-footed and is technically very good. He can play as a left fullback or as a wide midfielder. He can also play as a central midfielder. He's also a good athlete and really loves soccer. He can give us a lot of creativity and athleticism on the left side of the field. It's always nice to have a natural left-footer."
Evan Panken - M - 5-10 - 150 - Edina, Minn./Edina - Minnesota Thunder Academy U18
Four-year varsity member and three-time letter winner at Edina High School ... started his sophomore, junior and senior seasons at Edina ... two-time all-conference performer (2010 & 2011) ... 2011 Class "AA" all-state honoree ... 2010 Class "AA" all-state honorable mention ... earned all-Metro second team honors as a senior ... MVP of the Edina squad during his senior campaign ... Edina team won the 2010 Lake Conference title ... started for his Minnesota Olympic Development Program (ODP) squad in 2010 ... plays club for the Minnesota Thunder Academy USDA U18 ... traveled with his club team to train with ABC FC in Natal, Brazil in 2009.
Clark on Panken: "Evan was first recommended to me by Dave Jensen (his coach at Edina High School) to take him into camp and we looked at him. He's a really hard-working, no-nonsense type of player who has a terrific attitude. We really like him. He has a great work ethic. When he was at camp, he reminded us of (former Notre Dame soccer player) Greg Klazura. If he has a career anything like Greg's, we'll be happy with that. They also have a lot of the same personality traits."
Michael Shipp - M/D - 5-11 - 150 - Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest - Chicago Fire Juniors
Selected to the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) all-state team as a senior ... 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-American ... 2011 NSCAA Senior Excellence Award recipient ... four-year varsity letter winner and three-year starter at Lake Forest High School ... captained his high school squad during his junior and senior seasons ... tallied 20 goals and 17 assists during his high school career ... Notre Dame Elite Camp all-star (2011) ... has captained his Chicago Fire Juniors club team for the past six seasons (2006-12) ... two-time Illinois State Cup champion (2007 & 2011) ... vice president of the National Honors Society ... Cum Laude Society member ... younger brother of Notre Dame sophomore soccer player Harrison Shipp.
Clark on Shipp: "Michael is a different player compared to his brother Harry. He will play on the right side of the field as either a fullback or a wide midfield player. He has a lot of technical abilities and uses the ball very well. He makes terrific decisions with the ball. He has very good athleticism and will be a very good right-sided flank player. He's another tremendous student in this class. He was an Academic All-American in high school. He's a great fit for Notre Dame in many ways."
Brian Talcott - GK - 6-2 - 170 - Omaha, Neb./Millard North - Omaha Futbol Club
Will conclude his high school career in the spring of 2012 ... Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year finalist as a junior ... on the ESPN Rise "Top 25 Goalkeepers to Watch" list ... four-year varsity starter at Millard North High School ... three-time captain of his high school squad ... two-time all-state honoree ... earned all-Metro honors as a junior ... Millard North has won six consecutive Nebraska state titles ... two-year Olympic Development Program (ODP) player ... has received academic all-state honors ... boasts a 4.026 grade-point average ... has earned four academic letters at Millard North ... also a varsity letter winner in basketball.
Clark on Talcott: "Brian is a big, strong goalkeeper. He's been at our camp twice and we've seen him play with his club team. It's quite amazing all the goalkeepers we've had throughout the years that have gone to our camp. He has terrific potential to be right up there with some of the goalkeepers that we've produced."
2012 University of Notre Dame Men's Soccer Letter of Intent Signees